Sound — 7
Mouth of the Architect began in 2003 and in 10 years are only left with 2 original members of a five piece group, but have managed to release four studio albums, 2 EPs and a tribute album. In the world of modern sludge metal they have definitely put out a lot of material in that time period. While each of their albums have enjoyed positive reviews they have yet to gain a following on the international scene. The band has previously had a sordid history of drug abuse, depression, and alcoholism but this is behind them (relatively speaking). To go along with this new lease on life and an optimistic (again, relatively speaking) point of view, the album is appropriately named "Dawning." "Dawning" is the band's fourth studio release, and arguably their best to date. The band, for the first time, has sobered up (relatively speaking, haha, I'm getting to use that a lot) and have begun to take their music seriously - and it shows. There are six tracks on the album, with the track lengths ranging from just under 7 minutes to over 11 minutes. The release, which honestly is strong enough that it should have really put Mouth of the Architect on the map, went mostly unnoticed by the music press. The album opens up with the track "Lullaby," which opens like the title sounds, but builds to some truly sludge-y riffs mixed with some interesting phased tremolo picking. The vocals on the track are doubled clean and screamed vocals which really gives the song an interesting vibe, vocally. The next track, "It Swarms," opens with an epic melody played with tremolo picking and then the drums come in and it is like a kick in the face. "Sharpen Your Axes" has a more schizophrenic type vibe to it and has some pretty solid clean harmonized vocals on it and then the song slowly builds up in intensity. The track "How This Will End" starts with an acoustic guitar in the intro, but switches to distorted guitars pretty quickly, and has a more introspective vibe than most of the rest of the album. "Patterns" is another slow-burn type of song and builds up into intensity over the course of several minutes. The album closes out with "The Other Son," which is a good track to close out the album with as it seems to slowly work towards the end while most of the songs on the album build in intensity. Something that Mouth of the Architect does well is to almost feel like their music is working almost by accident I don't know how to explain it better than that, but it is enjoyable.
Lyrics — 7
Jason, Steve and Kevin all provide vocals but I couldn't tell you which is which. They often mirror each other with vocals, providing a simple kind of vocal harmony. I really enjoyed the clean and screamed vocals overlapping each other. The lyrical themes are still focused on despair and the same old sludge-y stuff, but there is maybe a hint of optimism buried in the lyrics (or at least the melodies) as well. The lyrics I would like to have shared are from the track "The Other Son," but I couldn't translate them confidently enough to post them, but the opening line as a "group" vocal: "As brothers we RIIIISSSSEEE!"
Overall Impression — 7
Honestly, this is the first that I've listened to Mouth of the Architect. I first listened to some of their older songs on YouTube before beginning with the album and wasn't especially impressed ... but after listening to the album I started to get it. For the first time since they founded they are making the type and caliber of music that they intended from the beginning. The way they have mixed ambient and sludge metal creates a very worthwhile listening experience they've found the right balance between the two so the songs aren't dragging into 20 minute trance-fests but also aren't so sludge metal that they sound like audio-slop. Anyone who has tried to start a post-metal sludge doom ambient metal band out of their garage knows it isn't easy finding the balance between making quality music and standing around depressed, but Mouth of the Architect has done it. All joking aside, the album is really solid. My favorite tracks would have to be "Lullaby," "The Other Son" and "How This Will End." My least favorite track from the album is "It Swarms," but I really had to listen to the songs separately to come to that conclusion that song stands pretty strong in the context of the album, but doesn't stand so well outside of the context of the album. I'm looking forward to see what Mouth of the Architect has in store for the future.